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Recent legislation has passed to make cannabis legal in another US state. The latest news on legalization in NY is that residents of the Big Apple are no longer prohibited from using recreational marijuana. Wondering what the New York legal cannabis bill means for MMJ cardholders? Read all about it below.
On March 31, 2021, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA), which legalizes adult-use cannabis in New York state. This legislation also created a new Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) that will be governed by a Cannabis Control Board (made up of five members) that will help oversee and implement this new legislation.
The New York legalization 2021 bill details that a one-of-a-kind regulatory board will be implemented to oversee the licensing, cultivating, producing, distributing, selling, and taxing of cannabis in the state. The MRTA covers medical marijuana (MMJ), recreational use by adults, and cannabinoid hemp.
The bill states that, starting immediately, possession and use of up to three ounces of cannabis by anyone 21 and over is completely legal in the state of New York. The delivery of recreational marijuana is now also legal and, in the near future, some businesses can open lounges (also known as consumption sites) where cannabis can be used legally. It also means that individuals can cultivate up to six marijuana plants at home (indoors or outdoors) for their own personal use.
While these elements can take place right away, there’s still most likely going to be a long wait for other aspects of the MRTA to occur. For example, officials will now need to draft the rules that will control the market, including how to allow the growth and retail markets to work and how to set up licensing. There will also likely be regulations set up for the creation of new taxes surrounding recreational marijuana. The revenue in taxes will most likely be millions of dollars; legislators have noted that this revenue in sales could be reinvested back into minority communities. Another positive change could be the end of racially disproportionate policing that has negatively impacted Black and Hispanic communities on low-level marijuana charges in the past.
Some dispensaries are already open for medical marijuana patients, but it could take up to a year for the state to open recreational cannabis vendors. Once all of the regulations and selling avenues have been established, experts estimate there could be as many as 1,000 retail outlets across the state of New York where individuals can buy legal cannabis. The MRTA also states that home delivery could be implemented once regulations are in place. This means that marijuana will be much easier to access for both recreational and medicinal use.
If you’ve read the NY legalization news, you might be wondering how the MRTA will impact MMJ users. At this time, there are several approved medical marijuana options (including capsules, tablets, metered liquid, oil tinctures, vaping, and topical and transdermal patches). This new law will allow smoking marijuana to be legalized, as well as other forms of cannabis. Edibles will also be among the options that are now legalized. This means that MMJ cardholders could have better access to the products they need to help treat their symptoms.
However, because it’s going to take at least a year to implement all of these changes, it may still be beneficial for people to use medical marijuana versus recreational usage. If individuals have a qualifying condition (which can range from anything from glaucoma to anxiety), they can talk to their doctor about getting an MMJ card in New York. There are still benefits cardholders can get that the general public won’t have yet. Legal home cultivation and growth of marijuana plants, for example, could take up to 18 months before recreational users are allowed to take part – but it would be a much shorter wait for MMJ users. MMJ cardholders also have the advantage of having access to dispensaries that aren’t open to the general public yet.
There will likely be a ton of changes occurring regarding the usage of both medical and recreational marijuana over the next year. MMJ cardholders should research how to buy and use their MMJ products so that they’re always in good standing with the law. For recreational users, there are still regulations to follow (especially on growing cannabis for personal use). Keep up with the components of the MRTA to stay on the right side of the law, and apply for an MMJ card if you have a medical condition that qualifies.